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Home: The Toast

It’s not okay, and it’s not going to be okay anytime soon, and we have to keep looking at it and calling it by its name.


“Officer Go Fuck Yourself.”


“There is a growing chorus of military veterans who have chimed in on the absurdity of photographs like this one. Let me join the parade. What we’re seeing here is a gaggle of cops wearing more elite killing gear than your average squad leader leading a foot patrol through the most hostile sands or hills of Afghanistan.”

A former Marine catalogues the military equipment being used and misused by Ferguson police.

As smoke hangs over the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, it’s important to understand its source. Some of this understanding will require us to reassess the history of police militarization in the United States. This will mean acknowledging its origins in the aftermath of the Watts Riots (1965) and the birth of the SWAT team shortly thereafter. It will mean noting the conservative reaction to the Warren Court’s civil libertarian protections in the 1950s and 60s to President Nixon’s launching of the drug war at the end of that same tumultuous decade. It will mean harping on President Reagan’s wholehearted embrace of racial policing and mass incarceration in the 1980s. It will mean interrogating the devastating effects of the 1208 Program (1990), which became the 1033 Program (1996), both of which authorized the transfer of military hardware to domestic precincts, a practice that has only accelerated in the wake of the Battle of Seattle (1999) and the attacks of September 11, 2001. The basic contours of this trajectory can be found in Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (2013). As Tamara K. Nopper and Mariame Kaba argue in Jacobin, however, any serious reckoning must account for the ongoing dehumanization of black people, tout court.


From friend of the Toast Jamelle Bouie:

“An overbearing police presence is a defining feature of life in Ferguson and the rest of North County. Last year in Ferguson, 86 percent of stops, 92 percent of searches, and 93 percent of arrests involved blacks, despite the fact that police found more “contraband” stopping white residents than black ones.”


“How Ferguson exposes the racial bias in local elections”


But that’s the crux of white supremacist racial logic: the problem with black people is … well, black people – not mass incarceration and the deindustrialization of urban America, not educational inequality and generational poverty, not 400 years of slavery, lynchings, and Jim Crow. To be black in America is to be victimized and then made responsible for our victimization. We built this country. But, apparently, it is we who are lazy and dependent. We are bullied politically, socially and economically. But it is we who are called “thugs”.

“There is never an excuse for violence against police,” President Obama said. Yet there are endless excuses for state violence against black people…

Alongside the immediate arrest of Darren Wilson, we must demand the demilitarization of law enforcement as well as the decriminalization of the black body. In addition to the withdrawal of the curfew and National Guard, we must demand the withdrawal of apartheid police forces and local governments where a black majority is ruled by a white minority. We cannot depend on the same police force that killed Brown to liberate us. In Ferguson and across the nation we must push for the implementation of community-oriented police models that include prevention, problem-solving, citizen engagement and community partnerships. There needs to be a cop-watch program in every city across America with a high concentration of people of color.”


do it for the vine


I remember the talk. (The Talk? It certainly carried the psychological weight of a proper noun.) I guess it was never actually one Talk — it was more that I heard a series of smaller talks from my parents, both of whom are Caribbean immigrants. They’d couch it in the language of difference, and it now occurs to me that they were trying to instil in me a sense — a niggling unease, maybe, or a vague nausea — of when situations might not be safe for me, as a young black male growing up in small town East Texas.

“Don’t stay out too late. Nothing good happens after midnight,” my mom would say. “You have to protect yourself! When the police show up, who do you think is going to get in trouble — you or those little white girls you’re hanging around with?”

I’d always argue with her when she said things like that. Not because she was wrong; because she was right, and her rightness hurt me somewhere deep and inarticulate.”

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